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Rare Negre Buveur Automaton by Roullet et Decamps

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Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2314
Date / Time :
November 03, 2005 10:00AM


Rare Negre Buveur Automaton by Roullet et Decamps, depicting a black boy sitting on a cane chair and drinking from a bottle of brandy, one leg outstretched, the other bent at the knee supporting a monkey who sits on his lap with her right paw resting on his shoulder, both figures with papier-mache heads and articulated lips, the boy with shaded and articulated eyelids, brown paperweight eyes, black hair wig, and single-air going-barrel movement contained in the body, in the original ivory silk shirt, waistcoat, striped silk breeches and sage-green velvet jacket, the monkey in tartan skirt, feathered hat, cummerbund and sleeves trimmed with metal-thread braid, ht. 30 in., (boy's breeches and monkey's sleeves worn).

Literature: Christian Bailly, Automata, the Golden Age, p. 321. This large piece, incorporating eleven separate movements, was produced by Roullet et Decamps as the companion piece to the Negre Fumeur (see the previous lot). The boy's head and hands were produced from the same mold as their Tortoise-Charmer; both pieces have unusually complex sequences, and few examples of either have survived. The boy turns his head, blinks continuously and moves his lower lip as though talking to his pet monkey. He lowers his head and seems to offer her a sip of brandy, while she turns her head from side to side, opens her mouth to reveal teeth and tries to take the bottle from him. Before she succeeds, the boy raises the bottle to his lips and drinks from it himself and rubs his stomach with satisfaction, while the monkey throws her head back and looks at her owner accusingly.
Estimate $20,000-30,000


Christian Bailly, cane chair , metal-thread braid, head , Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Automaton, Belts, Brandy, Breeches, Sports clothing